Whereabouts is tiling used?

Choosing the best kitchen tiles is really important whether you are designing a new white kitchen, or giving your brick room an update.

On walls, they’ll protect working areas, including behind the hob and the splashback, and as kitchen flooring, they’re hard wearing, easy to clean and handsome. Below we explore all the options so you can pick the best kitchen tiles for your space. 

What types/ranges are available?

There’s an enormous choice of tiles suitable for kitchen walls and floors. Manmade tiles are the most cost-conscious option, and the easiest to look after. Different designs and colours, either plain or patterned, and a range of finishes mean you can create a scheme you love. Natural stone is a more expensive choice, but has beauty and individuality. Stone tiles have stricter care requirements than manmade, but follow the rules and you can keep stone looking lovely.

What materials are they made out of?

Check out marble, limestone, travertine and slate for kitchen walls and floors. Bear in mind that natural stone must be sealed to protect it, and it needs to be cleaned with products designed for the stone; supermarket staples are too harsh. Finishes for natural stone tiles include the sheen of a polished tile, the smooth contemporary honed, aged-looking tumbled with Moroccan or mosaic patterns optionally.

There’s an enormous choice of ceramic and porcelain tiles for the kitchen and colour, pattern, the look of stone or wood, and different finishes mean you can be exacting in creating the finish you want. Glass tiles broaden the selection even further. 

What colours do they come in?

Marble typically comes in tones of grey and white, but there are striking dark and coloured shades, too. Likewise, veining can be subtle or dramatic. Don’t lay polished marble on a kitchen floor, as it can cause a slip hazard. 

Limestone is widely available. Beige, grey, cream and dark colours mean it can be used to create a whole host of different looks. Limestones can have differing durability, so make sure that if you’re using it on the floor, the stone is hard wearing enough for a heavy-traffic room.

Travertine is generally available in beige and grey tones, although there are warmer hues, too. It has natural voids on the surface which are filled in most finishes, or when the tiles are grouted. 

Slate creates a textured surface that can boost grip at floor level, or add interest to a kitchen when used on the wall. Slate’s dark and rich tones make it an attention-grabbing stone.

Glass tiles often feature in mosaics but are available in other wall tile formats, too. They’ll add an extra sparkle to a kitchen, and with multicoloured glass mosaics among the options they can make a stunning focal point.

Gloss tiles are modern, can be large or small, reflective, grey, green, blue black or think of your wildest colourful dream. Gloss can make happen. This non-restrictive tile is there if you want to brighten the kitchen. They can be a good buy if you’re designing a small kitchen to help make it feel bigger. They’re easy to wipe down, too.

Matt tiles have a flat finish. They’ll look less prominent than a light-catching gloss version, but can be a great way to introduce subtle contrast with other kitchen surfaces in, for example, an all-white scheme. They might take a bit more wiping down.

Small tweaks can make big differences to the appearance of a tiled splashback.

Try these ideas:
Contrast grout colour to tile colour to change the look. Dark grout on pale tiles will make the tiled area stand out more. See more grouting tips in our feature.

Decide between metro (aka subway) tiles that are flat or have a bevelled edge. The latter throw shadows and create different reflections, so can gently liven up a plain kitchen scheme.

Using an unusual tile shape like a hexagon? Instead of cutting the tiles to make a straight edge, let the tile shape create the top of the splashback.

Think layout with metro-style tiles. A half tile offset is classic, but they can be stacked in a grid instead (or the two ideas combined, see above) or used in a chevron, basket weave or herringbone pattern instead.

Whatever design you choose, and particularly if you have a small kitchen, ensure you choose the right-size tiles for your project.

Can you use tiles for walls and floors?

As a vertical element in a kitchen design, a kitchen splashback creates an impact, and tiles make exploiting this potential easy.

Use colour, reflectivity, patterned tiles, or tiles laid in a pattern like herringbone, interesting shapes such as hexagons or fish-scale tiles, or a natural stone or manmade lookalike to make a tiled splashback a feature. 

Alternatively, make kitchen floor tiles the more decorative element of the scheme – patterning the floor is a huge trend, and is generally teamed with a plain wall tile, although repeating the pattern on the walls isn’t out of the question.

If the floor tiles are the less extrovert partner of your wall and floor pair, consider here whether it’s the timeless style of natural stone you’re after, or the clean contemporary effect you could achieve with porcelain or ceramic. Don’t forget that a wood-look tile can evoke a natural warmth a kitchen could be crying out for.

Do they require maintenance?

It all depends on the tile. 

How much do they cost?

Usually your gloss tiles will be the one of the cheapest options, setting you back $9-10 per sqm whereas, your marble diamond square mosaic, or anything of a similar nature, can set you back up to $50 per sqm. Check your local supplier or nationaltiles.com.au if you need to compare prices at National tiles' website.

5. Two is better than one 

National Tiles
Can't decide between wood and tile? This kitchen is proof you don't have to. Wood planks run into a hexagonal mosaic tile. It's eclectic, unexpected, and somehow, seriously sexy.

4. Diamond (Floors) Are A Girl's Best Friend

National Tiles
Turkish terrazzo tiles create a graphic floor, which perfectly accents the white subway tile.

3. Matchy-Matchy

Match your floor tiles to your countertops, and you won't have to stress about anything clashing. Warm up the space (and add contrast) with a bold, colourful rug.

2. Fake It 'Til You Make It

National Tiles
Live out your hardwood floor dreams with tiles in wood tones. Lay them in a similar pattern to hardwoods, and you'll have the look you've been dreaming about for way less money — plus, tile cleanup is a breeze.

1. Turn Up For Terracotta

National Tiles
If you want a kitchen that feels laid-back and lived in, opt for terracotta floor tiles. This home's farmhouse-style kitchen gets a dose of hacienda charm from the hexagonal-patterned floor.